***We would like to acknowledge that we speak from our own personal experience and did not write this to devalue the experiences of others in any way. We would like to add our perspective, but not remove or downplay anyone else’s, whether it be similar or different from our own***
Beer die lore states that the first toss took place in 1972 at the University of Maine. Since then, this beloved pastime has made its way across the country and eventually settled in the Iowa prairie. Here at Grinnell College, you can find dice being tossed and bizths being drank on almost any day of the week. Students at Grinnell are drawn to this unique game for its complex rules and skillful nature. However, given the amounts of alcohol consumed during some games and the tradition of the game on many men’s sports team, females may feel unwelcome at the table. This has led people to view die as a male-dominated and even, exclusionary game. However, our experience as female die players has been quite different.
Just because beer die has been a male dominated space in the past does not mean that it continues to be one. In recent years, the number of female die players has grown. Female players are now participating in die league in record numbers, and there is no reason to think these trends will falter. While we may still be comparatively few, we, as female die players, make up an important part of the die community.
As first years, the die table, surrounding by older students, was intimating. But when we expressed interest in the game to our male friends, we were met with excitement and acceptance, and we continue to witness this. Most players, male and female, are eager to share rules and techniques with newcomers. Now as seniors, we seek out opportunities to welcome others just as we were welcomed.
We see spectating, like the game itself, as an inclusive event. One’s experience with die can be defined by the answer to one simple question: Do you enjoy watching the game? The nature of the game allows a maximum of four people while others watch and wait their turn. If you enjoy watching the game then even your time off the table will be pleasurable. We view this system as a positive reality of the game, rather than a stagnant landscape of joyful players and despondent spectators. Personally, we have never felt like adornments on the outside of a room while die is being played by men at the center. Instead, we are enjoying the company of our friends and view spectators and players as equally important members of the environment. When die no longer fits the setting, people commonly finish up games and switch to activities that can accommodate larger groups of people (i.e. rage cage, dancing).
In addition to spending time with our peers, beer die has provided us the opportunity to meet new people. We’ve met some of our closest friends on campus from across a die table. While some view die as an exclusionary force on campus, we view it as a unifying one, bringing people together around a common activity. For spectators and players alike, the game is primarily a social one and provides a unique opportunity to talk to people beyond your immediate social circle, outside of academic spaces.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, we think beer die is fun. We play because beer or water, standing or sitting, soft or hard biz, casual or serious, male or female—beer die here at Grinnell College is what we make it.